Campus brings in extra police, counselors after shooting on school grounds in Sandy

Posted at 8:41 PM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-26 23:46:55-04

SANDY, Utah -- Students returned to class at Union Middle School in Sandy Wednesday, a day after one of their classmates shot another student on school grounds.

The 16-year-old victim remains in the hospital in critical condition, while the 14-year-old suspect is facing attempted murder charges.

Sandy Police kept a close eye on students coming and going Wednesday.

"Our number one priority is to have kids feel safe here and be safe," said principal Kelly Tauteoli.

The heightened security is in response to the shooting in which the 14-year-old Union student shot A 16-year-old high school student two times in the field behind the school as classes let out for the day.

"Love to see the presence of the police here, they should have it more often," said parent Silvia Garcia.

Garcia says it's important her son knows that it's OK to go back to school.

"I know my boy was really upset, and kind of sad, and kind of wondering: 'Is this going to happen again?'" Garcia said.

Tauteoli said the key to dealing with this devastating event is open communication.

"The teachers talked to the kids, they just kind of gave them the facts, we really just laid it out, didn't try to hide anything," Tauteoli said.

Some students needed extra counseling. Dozens of them witnessed the shots being fired.

"The counselors would try to kind of get things reset, and then see if they could get them back to class, some kids had to go home," Tauteoli said.

Police say there was some sort of conflict brewing between the boys, and they had planned to meet up after school, possibly to fight.

"I'm very concerned about the gun, where did it come from?" said grandmother Scarlett Andrew. "Most likely it was in the school all day, the gun. I think all schools should have metal detectors in them."

The school says there were no signs that this student or any other student was capable of such an act.

"We feel strongly that this was an isolated incident, we're not going to start doing metal detectors because this is one incident, we don't have a pattern of this at our school," Tauteoli said.

Some parents have also speculated that bullying may have led to the shooting.

"We don't tolerate bullying, is there some that happens, absolutely, everywhere there is some that happens, but we handle it when we know about it," Tauteoli said.

Meanwhile, in the hallways students are coping with the shooting in their own unique way by writing inspirational notes and sticking them on each others' lockers.

Union Middle School plans to have police outside the school for at least the remainder of the week. They say counseling will continue to be available, not just for students, but any parents who also need to talk.